Janesville Innovation, Inc. Receives $66,000 State Grant to Support Rock County Entrepreneurship

(Janesville, WI) Mike Mathews, Janesville Innovation Center

Janesville Innovation, Inc. (JII) has been awarded a $66,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to help fund the organization’s efforts to advance the climate for entrepreneurship through the new Rock County Entrepreneurial Business Development Program (RCEBD).

Janesville Innovation, Inc. is one of 11 Wisconsin organizations to receive grants under WEDC’s new Entrepreneurship Support pilot program, which will help fund activities such as the promotion of entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial education, mentorship and training; and business development and financial services. Nearly $500,000 in matching grants were awarded statewide.

“WEDC congratulates Janesville Innovation, Inc. for being among the recipients for this new program,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the State’s lead economic development organization. The Rock County coalition developed an innovative proposal that has the potential to make a real difference when it comes to assisting entrepreneurs and startups throughout the County.”

The Rock County Entrepreneurial Business Development Program will serve the needs of Rock County start-ups and early-stage businesses by helping them assess their business concepts and plans, develop and diversify customer bases and markets, and provide links to financial assistance, mentoring and networking.

According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, Rock County’s network of economic development organizations and their partnering service providers have been experiencing a consistent flow of requests from emerging entrepreneurs, as well as existing small businesses.

“Over the past three years, we have been able to assist a portion of these entrepreneurs and small businesses through the support offered from the Janesville Innovation Center (JIC). For non-JIC tenants, we have also provided similar types of support through the Rock County Development Alliance. In addition, the development of Irontek this past year represents another component to the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Otterstein. 

With the support of the WEDC grant, these offerings – as well as others – can now be folded into a coordinated County-wide network to provide a critical mass of technical support services for area entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Barry Brandt, Janesville Innovation, Inc. Board President stated that, “While we have a good pulse on the growing entrepreneurial and small business activity in Rock County, it’s difficult to provide the levels of required services with limited financial resources. With a solid foundation already in place, we look forward to leveraging this WEDC grant with local public/private funding to increase our collaborative efforts; sharpen our focus; and expand services to a much larger constituency base.”

“Janesville Innovation, Inc. is one of the many organizations across the state that already support the overall mission of identifying, educating, servicing and funding entrepreneurs,” added Aaron Hagar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for WEDC. “We look forward to seeing how the Rock County Entrepreneurial Business Development Program utilizes the grant to further increase the availability of resources for Rock County entrepreneurs.” 

While WEDC has a variety of programs to support the formation, development, growth and financing of technology-based and growth-oriented startup and early-stage businesses, the new initiative provides funding to organizations and communities whose efforts may not meet the eligibility criteria for existing programs.

The Entrepreneurship Support pilot program is the latest addition to WEDC’s suite of entrepreneurship resources, which includes support for startup accelerators, seed capital funds, investment tax credits and technology development loans. In addition, WEDC supports and engages an existing statewide network of partners that offers business training, mentorship and financing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Other grant recipients include: Center for Enterprise Development Inc., Fond du Lac; Couleecap Inc., La Crosse; Indianhead Community Action Agency, Ladysmith; Milwaukee 7, Milwaukee; Nicolet Area Technical College, Rhinelander; UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, Madison; UW-Stout Center for Innovation and Development, Menomonie; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Madison; and UWM Research Foundation, Milwaukee.

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About Janesville Innovation, Inc.

Janesville Innovation Inc. (JII) is a regional 501(c) (3) corporation created in January, 2013. JII’s 15 member Board of Directors oversees the Janesville Innovation Center (JIC) and the extensive management, mentoring and business assistance services provided to JIC tenants. The purpose of JII is to provide opportunities to Rock County entrepreneurs to be nurtured through their formative years. The Corporation provides a supportive environment, including infrastructure, education, training, mentorship and a network of service providers that will assist entrepreneurs to achieve success by encouraging technological innovation, setting the stage for future growth, job generation, creation of an expanded tax base and revitalization of the local and regional economy. Visit janesvilleinnovation.com for additional information.

About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @InWisconsin to learn more.

Source: Rock County Dev Alliance